This week, a federal judge found indefinite detention to be unconstitutional, but this morning, the US House of Representatives voted to keep it anyway.
I mean, what’s a 200-year-old, dried up piece of parchment anyway when a terrorist might be able to light his exploding underpants on fire? The Founders never envisioned exploding underpants, did they?
We have to protect ourselves from threats, and if that means you or I might be arrested and held for months or years without charges, then so be it, right?
Benjamin Franklin wrote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I love that quote.
For the last 11 years, we have tripped merrily toward a police state in exchange for that elusive guarantee that terrorists won’t be able to hurt us. We have entered two costly and immoral wars, killed or mailed hundreds of thousands of people and lost our reputation in the world as a people of justice.
We have given up our right to privacy by not forcing our government to stop following us and listening to our private conversations.
We have elected people who would trash the Bill of Rights in the name of safety and security, promising that each reduction in our civil rights brings us closer to that guarantee of security.
Well, there is no guarantee of safety, and taking away the personal freedoms and right to privacy that Americans have long enjoyed won’t make us any safer; in fact, it will endanger us more.
I’m old enough to remember the Cold War. I remember my mother telling me that citizens could report each other and people were arrested and jailed for saying anything against the state. Children reported their parents; you could trust no one, and that’s what the Communists wanted to do to us.
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev said the United States would not be taken from without, but would fall from within.
What my mother feared is coming to be, although Communism as an enemy is long forgotten. Today we use the word “terrorist” to scare people into believing their security can be guaranteed if only they will give up their Constitutional rights.
We are headed in the wrong direction, heading merrily down the path to fascism, defined as: “the political movement, doctrine or system of Benito Mussolini in Italy, which encouraged militarism and nationalism, organizing the country along hierarchical authoritarian lines.”
Militarism and nationalism. Look around you; it’s happening, and indefinite detention without charges or trial is a good place to put our collective foot down and say no.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org